Top Ultrasound Apps

All you need is a smart phone and an internet connection and you can have instant access to literally hundreds of medical applications. Given this overload, how is the average doc to filter through the detritus and find the apps worth downloading? We’ll use this column to give you a hand, combing through the avalanche of apps at least once a month. This issue we will look at a couple of ultrasound teaching apps, one from a large vendor and another from a fellow emergency physician.

Dr. Peter Canning’s
Emergency Medicine Ultrasound

This app is a nice ultrasound reference for any ICU or emergency physician getting acquainted with ultrasound or trying to expand upon already mastered skills.  The app loads into a table broken down by organ system and exam type. Tapping on a title loads a page with information about the exam including tips on probe type, patient positioning, ultrasound operator/probe positioning, as well as some useful info on the diagnostic utility of the exam itself.  The cardiac section also features very nice illustrations demonstrating the anatomic view achieved by various probe positions.  On the bottom border of each page sits a link to pertinent still photos, videos or both for the current exam.  Tapping on the “Image” button shows captured still images that are nicely labeled with relevant markers.  Tapping on “Video” shows a short clip demonstrating a real time exam of the given area.  The information and images included in the Emergency Medicine Ultrasound App are very informative and polished.  The video is adequate but lacks narration, which would be a definite bonus.  One of the nice features of the app is that, unlike the SonoAccess app from Sonosite, the videos are imbedded, allowing you to view them without a network connection.  The Emergency Medicine Ultrasound app is priced at $4.99, which is an appropriate price for what you get.  Future plans include a pathology section for each exam, which will be a welcome addition to the current content.

Pros:  Imbedded images and video, good pointers, ease of use
Cons:  Currently limited to normal anatomy only, no video narration




SonoSite has had this ultrasound teaching app out for some time. Opening the app brings you to a front page downloaded from the web, which includes section headers that can be filtered by specialty (including EM). A “Coach” section walks you through the various ultrasound techniques with high-quality videos. The “Cases” section shows a series of well-done ultrasound teaching cases. The “Images” section shows various still images broken into anatomical sections. While the overall quality of the images is quite good, the labeling is a bit hit or miss. Some images are labeled only on the file info page. The “Guides” section simply links to SonoSite’s website to offer a few PDFs that seem to pertain only to info on their devices or how you can get reimbursement from insurers for your ultrasounds.


The Achilles heal of the SonoAccess is the necessity to have a data connection in order to use it. I don’t know about your ED, but this is a pain where I work. Also, while this app is free, in order to use the application, you must submit your email address as well as other information. By doing so, you also allow SonoSite to contact you and send you product information. You can opt out but only after agreeing and then sending an email after the fact.

Overall, this is a nice educational supplement but I couldn’t help feeling a bit like Ralphie after decoding his first message from Little Orphan Annie in A Christmas
Story.  “Ovaltine? A crummy commercial?”

Pros:  Detailed teaching videos, Free of charge
Cons:  Must have network access to use, you buy the app with personal info


Get more tech tips from Dr. Wagner by following him on Twitter: @TheTechDoc


  1. the Japanese ‘diagnostic ultrasound’ apps 1 and 2 are good but expensive.
    there are some basic anatomy apps that recycle the greys anatomy pictures which are handy.

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